Open Sesame: 6 New Picture Books for Young Movers

Open Sesame: Kid Lit Musings and Review by Cheli Mennella

Things that Go!

Do you know a young child who is crazy for cranes? Who dreams of diggers and bulldozers? Who is a fan of firetrucks and a believer in buses and bikes? Well, these are for them!

Here are six new picture books featuring things that go, that move, that come to the rescue.

Perfect read-a-loud books with eye-catching illustrations, these books might move your little ones to park themselves right onto your lap. 

In My Bike by Byron Barton, Tom tells the reader all about his bicycle. Then Tom rides to work, passing trucks and buses and cars, monkeys and tigers, and even elephants. When he arrives, Tom puts on his uniform and gets to work. Readers will be surprised and delighted to find out Tom’s job, where he gets to ride with no hands. Simple text with just a few words per page is perfect for read-a-loud and for reading practice. Steady forward motion and gentle suspense will appeal to the tiny set, as will the bold, full color illustrations. Young movers might enjoy Barton’s many other books too, like My Bus, My Car, and Machines At Work.

  • My Bike By Byron Barton. Published By Greenwillow Books, 2015. ISBN: 978-0-06-233699-6

Bulldozer’s Big Day, written by Candace Fleming and illustrated by Eric Rohman, opens with a little bulldozer leaping for joy on his big day. As he greets each vehicle at the construction site, from digger to crane, he is met with an all work and no play attitude. Bulldozer’s blade droops lower and lower. When the whistle blows at the end of the day, a single, “Wooot,” becomes a chorus of toots and hoots. A gigantic cake rises from the ground, glowing with birthday candles. Block-print illustrations portray the vehicles with bold outlines and soft interiors, and give the story hand-made heart. Readers will enjoy going back through the book and looking for clues of the cake being made. Another hit for the construction vehicle set.

  • Bulldozer’s Big Day written by Candace Fleming and illustrated by Eric Rohman. Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2015. ISBN: 978-1-4814-0097-8

The Bus Is For Us, written by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Gillian Tyler, shares the joy and delight children have in riding bikes, trains, cars, and more fantastical things like a fish, a cloud, and a bear. But they agree: the bus is the best, because “the bus is for us.” While each of the other things is lovely and fun, the rider is almost always alone. On the bus, however, there are other children, all riding together, a real sense of “us.” The simple, rhyming text is great for emergent readers, and the watercolor illustrations add a sweet and satisfactory charm.

  • The Bus Is For Us written by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Gillian Tyler. Published by Candlewick Press, 2015. ISBN: 978-0-7636-6983-6

In Supertruck by Stephen Savage, the reader meets a variety of city trucks, like the bucket truck, fire truck, tow truck and of course the trash truck. When a snowstorm hits, the city gets buried in a blizzard. But a sneaky truck transforms into Supertruck and digs out the whole city. The other trucks have no idea who came to their rescue. Only the reader has that inside information and knows Supertruck is probably out collecting trash. Just a few words per page paired with basic shape illustrations work together for a feel good story. Kids who like this might want to check out Savage’s Little Tug, another family favorite.

  • Supertruck by Stephen Savage. Published by Roaring Brook Press, 2015. ISBN: 978-1-59643-821-7

Fire Engine No. 9 by Mike Austin starts with a fire at Luigi’s Italian Restaurant! Firefighters move quickly into action, and readers are along for the ride. Slide down the pole, put on gear, and race to the fire. These heroes don’t hesitate as they face the flames and make a dramatic rescue. Filled with energy as sound words and vibrant illustrations burst across the page. Readers enhance the experience by having to turn the book vertically at times. A celebratory ending shows Luigi’s new food endeavor and the firefighters getting a delicious thank you. Fire safety tips give young’uns helpful information.

  • Fire Engine No. 9 by Mike Austin. Published by Random House Books for Young Readers. ISBN: 978-0553510959

I’m Cool, written by Kate McMullan and illustrated by Jim McMullan, is the new creation from the same team who brought truck lovers, I Stink!, I’m Brave!, I’m Mighty and others. The star of this book is a Zamboni machine, who has an important job of shaving down the ice during a break in the hockey game. Dealing with limited time, a lot of ice to cover, and a razzing announcer, the Zamboni never loses its cool.  A bold art style and fun to read text that relies heavily on exclamatory phrases and a bit of bravado will score points with Zamboni lovers of any age.

  • I’m Cool written by Kate McMullan and illustrated by Jim McMullan. Published by Balzer & Bray, 2015. ISBN: 978-0062306296


Cheli Mennella

Cheli has been involved with creative arts and education for most of her life, and has taught many subjects from art and books to yoga and zoology. But she has a special fondness for kid’s books, and has worked in the field for more than 20 years. She is a freelance writer and regular contributor to Valley Kids and teaches a course for adults in “Writing for Children.” She writes from Colrain, where she lives with her musician-husband, three children, and shelves full of kid’s books.

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